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Computer Science Institute Critique 2007

Ashley Dawkins's picture
This year was the first year of the Computer Science Summer Institute. It lasted one week with tens presentations in five days. For the first attempt at this Summer Institute it went fairly well, but there are several areas that could have been improved.

I will begin with the Program Outline . It states:

The Institute will consist of lectures and demonstrations, including hands-on computer laboratories, together with discussion periods aimed at exploring computing technology and its impact on education, both inside and outside the classroom.

This goal is a great one, but I do not believe that is was achieved. There really wasn’t anytime to discuss the talks and some were not interactive. The teachers did take part in blackboard, but they were not able to read what each other wrote. Also, their posts were never discussed. I believe if there was more discussion the teachers would have been able to talk about important things, such as, classroom applications.

It also felt as though some of the speakers were disconnected from the teachers; almost as though they did not know who their audience was. This was not the case for everyone and there were fun, interactive activities, but the few that did not connect with the teachers really made a difference. Along those lines, I don’t see how this Institute “helped teachers escape”. I don’t understand this idea and based on the teachers who took part in this Institute, I’m not sure if they saw it as an “escape” either.

I thought that the main idea of all the Institute talks were good. They seemed to aim at informing the teachers of different programs and ideas in hope that they would help them understand the difference between computers and computing. In this way, I do believe the Program Outline was addressed.

I would argue that this institute would have been more successful if it was broken up more; two weeks instead of one. If it was presented in this way there would have been time to dedicate to discussion and applications. This would have also let room for feedback.


Judith Lucas-Odom's picture

CSESI 2007

J.D., I did learn a lot from the institute and I had many more questions that were not answered at that time but the experience was worth it.  I agree, it should have been at least two weeks but it made me go and ask more questions and seek out more experts on computers. Overall, I enjoyed the experience!


J.D. Dougherty's picture

appreciate the feedback ...


As coordinator of CSESI 2007 (the first one), I was apprehensive about how to achieve the goals of getting K-12 teachers excited, and more experienced, with computing education. This is an important goal, esp. since most education research indicates that students opt-in/opt-out of CS somewhere in middle school, and not necessarily for the best reasons (e.g., too geeky, lack of confidence).

I have reviewed anonymous feedback, and really appreciate Ashley's comments. I really am glad she went back to the goals as a reminder.

Personally, the week went by very quickly, overloaded with topics, so I think either the Institute needs to go two weeks, or a few topics need to be tabled to make room for deeper discussions. -- J.D.